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Lions Roar : May 2014
i was twenty-eiGht years old when my life fell apart. I had been quietly struggling with depression since I was nineteen, but increasingly the lows were followed by periods of ecstatic exuberance and boundless energy. What I had always written off as an “artistic temperament” was starting to become an exhaust- ing ride. Earlier that spring, I’d been selected to participate in a whirl- wind musical tour of the U.k., performing with several other bands. We drank too much and slept too little, and it all felt easy to me. I was quick to laugh, suddenly extroverted, filled with cre- ative energy. But when I returned to Boston, I quickly spiraled downward. I began having trouble sleeping, even for an hour. I got lost driving in my own neighborhood. My reflexes slowed down and I had trouble playing the guitar. When I tried to pack for a trip to Minnesota, I found it difficult to make decisions. My brain could no longer handle even simple tasks. How many clothes would I need for a two-week trip? How did that knob on the washing machine work? What season was it? As I felt the fog closing in on my life, bewilderment turned to fear. My brain was racing in tight circles of anxiety, but try as I might, I couldn’t untangle my thoughts. I felt as though I was rapidly developing Alzheimer’s. I was experiencing what I later learned is called a “mixed state,” in which someone with bipolar disorder is suffering mania and depression simultaneously. After five days of total insomnia, I called my family. It took tremendous courage to say, “Mom, there is something chemically wrong with me. I’m coming home.” PHOTOByROBERTDARCH/MILLENNIUMIMAgES,U.k. I Did Not Lose My Mind It took an illness of the brain for MeG hutchinson to discover the inherent sanity of her own mind. Her breakdown was actually a breakthrough. SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2014 71